IIf there’s anything I miss from my childhood (other than my sweet, sweet innocence) it’s the crushing weight of choosing where to eat at the mall food court after playing video games. at the arcade but before going to the cinema. I obviously want an Orange Julius, but Sbarro and Hot Dog on a Stick look sideways at me, promising easy-to-carry treats to wander around Spencer’s Gifts while inhaling.
The minds behind Bend’s Grove Market Hall at Northwest Crossing must have felt the same way I did, because the space truly looks like the next evolution of a mall food court, but without a random Foot Locker to get in the way. . But instead of the low-cost cafeteria food that most food courts were filled with, The Grove offers several high-quality restaurants, the centerpiece of which is Sebastian Seafood and Specialty Markett.
“My inspiration for Sebastian’s is driven by the hard work and success of my family,” says owner Sebastian Galletti of his inspiration for opening a market and cafe combination. “My father, grandfather and two uncles have been distributing seafood for 40 years now from their family business and now sell fresh and frozen produce to over 16,000 grocery stores nationwide. I have worked with seafood all my life since I was 16 years old (11 years old) I have always been passionate about seafood, but it was in the retail trade that I decided to pursue my career. years ago I was involved in running a seafood market with my family. This market didn’t have a cafe, and that was one of the many things I wanted to add to this concept.”
I’ll settle this right away: my mother considers herself an expert in fish and also fries. I think she and I have been to every place in central Oregon that serves fish and chips, and I stood in awe as she scientifically broke down what makes them good versus when they’re underwhelming. So when I say my mom loved that Sebastian cooks the best fish and chips she’s had in Bend, that’s a compliment not taken lightly.
The fish is sometimes prepared with cod, sometimes halibut; whatever the freshest and most exciting take on that day. The two huge pieces of cod were lightly breaded and perfectly crispy without overpowering the tender, buttery fish which absolutely melted in my mouth and made my mom consider asking Sebastian himself about his cooking techniques. The tartar sauce was also legit, the best I’ve ever had, striking that delicate balance between dill and lemon while enhancing the fish instead of masking it.
I haven’t eaten a decent lobster roll since the last time I was in Seattle, so when I saw Sebastian was offering some on the menu, I had to go. The bread was perfectly crispy and the lobster was so fresh and tender it managed to burst with flavor with every bite. It was the perfect combination of claw, shank and tail meat, resembling an authentic Connecticut style lobster roll.
Biting into such a juicy and fresh lobster roll was like a beautiful trip back in time, taking me back to the Oregon Coast and its biting wind and overcast skies. “Sourcing seafood is the trickiest part of this whole operation, but we found a way to overcome that hurdle,” says Galletti. “Not only do we use local suppliers along the Pacific Northwest coast, but we also ship a lot of our fish via FedEx. Getting our fish flown has been key to this operation because we can get our fish a day longer. We fly them in straight from the source to make sure we always have fresh produce.”
We tried as much as we could until we were packed. The lobster bisque was light and sweet, the calamari was golden brown and perfectly crunchy (completely avoiding the chewiness that so many local places fall victim to). We also bought crab cakes and salmon candies from the cooler, which were both delicious and stuffed us until we were deeply queasy.
With the combination of food court ambiance and Oregon Coast chill, lunch at Sebastian filled me with fond memories of Astoria and Newport while reminding me of simpler times. , wandering the indoor malls when I was a kid.